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Rose Bowl: Michigan State to start a substitute middle linebacker

Max Bullough, who usually plays the position, is suspended. Senior Kyler Elsworth and sophomore Darien Harris are expected to play in his place.

December 27, 2013|By Gary Klein
  • Michigan State defensive coordinator Pat Narduzzi says the Spartans haven't decided on who will start in place of suspended middle linebacker Max Bullough.
Michigan State defensive coordinator Pat Narduzzi says the Spartans haven't… (Jae C. Hong / Associated…)

Michigan State will be without middle linebacker Max Bullough against Stanford in the 100th Rose Bowl game, but Spartans defensive coordinator Pat Narduzzi is eager to see who steps up in his place.

Bullough, a team captain, was suspended for violating unspecified team rules.

"I've seen what No. 40 [Bullough] has done for years and I don't remember the last game we had a different [middle linebacker] in there," Narduzzi said Friday. "But I'm anxious to see what someone else can do at that position."

Senior Kyler Elsworth and sophomore Darien Harris are expected to play in Bullough's place.

Michigan State is ranked first nationally in defense, giving up an average of 248.2 yards a game.

Narduzzi, who won the Frank Broyles Award as the top assistant coach in college football, said the starter had not yet been determined. "Flip a coin on Wednesday," he said. "I'm fine with that."

Tech savvy

Stanford offensive coordinator Mike Bloomgren went through a Rose Bowl media session wearing Goggle Glass.

"It's my way of paying homage to Nerd Nation," he said, adding, "Our relationship with Google is obviously very strong and I'm the tech member of our staff. I'm the guy that wants to unwrap toys like this on Christmas."

Bloomgren said he could envision the practical application of the video technology eventually making its way onto the field. In the meantime, he is game-planning for Michigan State.

Bloomgren does not expect Bullough's absence to be a huge issue for the Spartans.

"I know if we lost somebody who was that important to our team, we'd do less, not more, so I would certainly envision that there's not going to be more things coming," Bloomgren said. "I think there will be less and they'll be worried about fitting the run perfectly and having people in the right places."

Good day, sunshine

Michigan State linebacker Denicos Allen and his teammates are enjoying the Southern California sunshine.

"It's definitely a big change, you know, coming from an ice storm to nice palm trees and nice weather — it's an amazing change," said Allen, a fifth-year senior from Hamilton, Ohio. "I got off the plane ... thinking it's going to be cold because I'm used to getting off the plane in, like, Wisconsin or Indiana."

Senior offensive tackle Fou Fonoti, who played at Lakewood Mayfair High and Cerritos College, is the only Californian on the Spartans' roster. Allen said Fonoti gave teammates the lowdown on the weather before they left Michigan.

"He said it's nice weather — that's all we really cared about," Allen said. "We were just trying to get out of Michigan. The weather is what everybody was looking forward to."

Return engagement

Stanford quarterback Kevin Hogan helped lead Stanford to a 20-14 victory over Wisconsin in the 2013 Rose Bowl, completing 12 of 19 passes for 123 yards and rushing for 54 yards in seven carries.

"I was happy with myself," he said. "Obviously there were throws that I would have liked to have made.

"Certainly near the end of the game I remember we could have put it out of reach, but that's stuff that you can learn from and it's going to be so nice to be on that same field this year and be able to hit those throws again and kind of get a second chance."

Hogan has passed for 20 touchdowns with nine interceptions this season. Stanford is 16-2 in games that Hogan has started and 10-0 against ranked opponents.

gary.klein@latimes.com

Twitter: @latimesklein

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